Telecommunications engineer has officially launched M-Lugha which will help kids learn their native language.
Language in Africa can be one of the most confusing things for children this is because you find that the language children learn at home and the one they learn in school can be quite different. For example, I grew up with a grandma who spoke to me in Kikuyu, my nanny spoke to me in Swahili and my mother spoke to me in English plus all my teachers. I learned three different languages simultaneously yet I can only understand my native language but can’t speak it to save my life.
This is why telecommunications engineer Abdinoor Alimahdi who grew up in Northern Kenya decided that he wanted to change the narrative. He noted that a lot of kids perform poorly in National examinations because they are neither good in English or Kiswahili due to this he created a learning app as his project work while pursuing a master’s degree in education technology.
M-Lugha launched as a series of apps.
Founder Almahdi then decided to translate the early years syllabus into their mother tongue so that they would have a better understanding.
“I decided to translate the syllabus into their mother tongue on a digital device for the early years of education. With this, learning will be fun, and young people can acquire basic knowledge in literacy and numeracy without having to face the problems I faced”
In 2017 the Kenyan government attempted to support children with basic textbooks in Kiswahili but the difference is that M-Lugha is digital and it may come in handy especially now during the pandemic.
How M-Lugha works.
The app gives a variety of languages, it initially had only three languages but grew into 17 different languages. 35 out of 47 counties are considered rural and those are quite a number for a country that is meant to be progressive, this also means a lot of children have been left behind over the years. Every language has it’s own app for instance if you’re a Luo your app would be M-Lugha (Luo).
How much it goes for.
“The app goes for an annual subscription of KSh500 (~$5), but we are not selling the app alone. We are also selling hardware and software as a package. We have customised 7-inch Android tablets with preloaded M-Lugha apps and other free early childhood interactive apps.”
Though the startup hasn’t received any funding since they started Almahdi is open to creating a payment option that is favourable to the many people who can’t afford it.
“That has been my major roadblock to success. Whenever I go to NGOs or the county government, they say they cannot fund an app that hasn’t been approved by the ministry of education. But the ministry is requesting for Ksh 2 million (~$20,000) for approval,” he laments.
Almahdi hopes that the startup will soon be recognized by international companies who will see this initiative as a way of education more people and reducing illiteracy.